By Paul R. Allen

PAUL IN TUXAs a combat veteran wounded in one of America’s wars, I offer to speak for those who cannot.   Were the mouths of my fallen combat friends not stopped with dust, they would testify that life revolves around honor.   In war it is understood that you give your word of honor to do your duty to stand and fight instead of running away and deserting your friends.   When you keep your word despite desperately desiring to flee the screaming hell all around, you earn honor.

Earning honor under fire changes who you are.   The blast-furnace of battle burns away impurities encrusting your soul.   The white-hot forge of combat hammers you into a purified, hardened warrior willing to die rather than break your word to friends – your honor.

Combat is scary but exciting.
You never feel so alive as when being shot at without result.
You never feel so triumphant as when shooting back – with result.
You never feel love so pure as that burned into your heart by friends willing to die to keep their word to you.
And they do.

The biggest sadness of your life is to see friends falling.   The biggest surprise of your life is to survive the war.   Although still alive on the outside, you are dead inside – shot thru the heart with nonsensical guilt for living while friends died.   The biggest lie of your life torments you that you could have done something more, different, to save them.   Their faces are the tombstones in your weeping eyes, their souls shine the true camaraderie you search for the rest of your life but never find.

You live a different world now.   You always will.
Your world is about waking up night after night screaming, back in battle.
Your world is about your best friend bleeding to death in your arms, howling in pain for you to kill him.
Your world is about shooting so many enemies the gun turns red and jams, letting the enemy grab you.
Your world is about struggling hand-to-hand for one more breath of life.

You never speak of your world.   Those who have seen combat do not talk about it.   Those who talk about it have not seen combat.

You come home but a grim ghost of he who so lightheartedly went off to war.   But home no longer exists.   That world shattered like a mirror the first time you were shot at.   The splintering glass of everything you knew fell at your feet, revealing what was standing behind the mirror – grinning Death – and you are face to face, nose to nose with it!

The shock was so great that the boy you were died of fright.   He was replaced by a stranger who slipped into your body, a MAN from the Warrior’s World.   In that savage place you give your word of honor to dance with Death instead of running away from it.   This suicidal waltz is known as: “Doing your duty.”

You did your duty, survived the dance, and returned home.   But not all of you came back to the civilian world.   Your heart and mind are still in the Warrior’s World, as far away from the civilian world as Mars.   They will always be in the Warrior’s World.   They will never leave, they are buried there.   In that far off hallowed home of honor, life is about keeping your word.

Back in the civilian world, however, people have no idea that life is about keeping your word of honor .   They think life is about ballgames, backyards, barbecues, babies and business.

Your earning honor under fire;
Your blood sacrifice;
Your loss of serenity/peace of mind in the hard blast-furnace of battle;

bought and paid for their freedom to indulge in this kind of soft civilian thinking.   The distance between the two worlds is as far as Mars from Earth.   This is why, when you come home, you feel like an outsider, a visitor from another planet.
You are.

Friends try to bridge the gaping gap between you.   It is useless.   They may as well look up at the sky and try to talk to a Martian as talk to you.   Words fall like bricks between you.   Serving with Warriors who died proving their word has made prewar friends seem too un-tested to be trusted – thus they are now mere acquaintances.

The brutal truth is that earning honor in the white-hot forge of combat hammered the soft civilian you into a hardened Warrior accustomed to dancing the suicidal “Doing your duty” waltz with Death.   This unspeakable,  indescribable, life changing experience picked you up like a whirlwind and hurled you so far away from home that when you come back you feel like a stranger in your own home town, a visitor from another world, alone in a crowd of those you once knew.

COMRADESThe only time you do not feel alone is when with another combat veteran.

  • Only he understands that keeping your word, your honor, whilst standing face to face with Death gives meaning and purpose to life.
  • Only he understands that your terrifying — but thrilling — dance with Death has made your old world of backyards, barbecues and ballgames deadly dull.
  • Only he understands that your way of being due to combat-damaged emotions is not un-usual, but the usual and you are OK, you are NORMAL for what you have been thru — repeat NORMAL!

There are countless hidden costs of combat that Warriors pay.   One is adrenaline addiction.   Most  combat veterans – including this writer – feel that war was the high point of our lives, and emotionally, life has been downhill ever since.   This is because we came home adrenaline junkies.   This was not our idea, we got that way doing our duty in combat situations such as:

  • Crouching in a foxhole waiting for attacking enemy soldiers to get close enough for you to start shooting;
  • Hugging the ground, waiting for the signal to leap up and attack the enemy;
  • Sneaking along on a combat patrol out in no man’s land, seeking a gunfight;
  • Suddenly realizing that you are walking in the middle of a mine field.

Circumstances like these skyrocket your feelings of aliveness far above and beyond civilian life:
Never have you felt so terrified – yet so thrilled;
Never have you seen sky so blue, grass so green, breathed air so sweet, etc.;

because waltzing with Death makes you feel stratospheric aliveness from being filled to the brim with adrenaline — pressed down and running over!

This unforgettable experience of being sky-high on aliveness/adrenaline is why you come home basically “thrill-crazy” – that is, to use a slang expression, you do things now that you once thought were “crazy” in order to obtain thrills/excitement.   To say this another way, after the indescribable, life-changing thrill of being shot at without result — you now have a compulsive, compelling craving for similar profound stirring of your thoughts or emotions — read: thrills/excitement/aliveness from danger.   (This is a description of being addicted to adrenaline).

QUESTION:  Do you know that you are suffering from adrenaline poisoning and have become an adrenaline addict/junkie?

ANSWER:  No you do not, because being wacked-out on it 24/7, day after day, month after month, becomes the “new normal.”   You do not think anything is wrong with being constantly high as a kite on adrenaline because it is not un-usual but the usual – the common everyday condition you are in when fighting for your life.

Then you come home where the addictive, euphoric rush of aliveness/adrenaline hardly ever happens in the normal course of events.   You miss being sky-high on it and find normal boring.   You hunger for your “fix” of thrills/excitement/danger like an addict hungers for his “fix” of heroin.   Then what often happens?   “Quick — pass me the bottle, drug, motorcycle, fast car, thrill-drive, drag race, speedboat, airplane, parachute, extreme sport, rock climbing, big game hunt, fist fight, knife fight, gun fight, etc.”

Being poisoned by adrenaline is bad enough, but it gets worse.   Another of the countless hidden costs of combat is the dirty little secret that no one talks about — which is — most combat veterans, including this writer, come home unable to feel our feelings.   It works like this.

In battle, it is understood that you give your word of honor to not let your fear stop you from doing your duty.   To keep your word, you must numb up/shut down your fear.   But the numb-up/shut-down mechanism does not work like a tight, narrow rifle shot; it works like a broad, spreading shot gun blast.   Thus when you numb up your fear, you numb up virtually all other feelings as well.

The more combat, the more fear you must “not feel.”    You may get so numbed up/shut down inside that you cannot feel much of anything.   You become an emotionally dead man walking, feeling virtually nothing for nobody (if you let yourself be stopped in the flow of fighting by feelings of grief for fallen friends you may join them).   This condition is known as “battle-hardened,” meaning that you can feel hard feelings like hate and anger, but not soft, tender feelings (which is bad news for loved ones.  The good news is that they can read Writer’s Note (1), Towards Accepting a Combat Vets Way of Being [Why combat vets are like they are, and how to connect with them] for a full discussion of this topic).

In sum, the reason that the rush of alcohol, drugs, adrenaline, etc. is so attractive, so compelling is because you get to feel something, which is a step up from the awful numbed up/shut down deadness of feeling nothing.

Although you may be an emotionally dead man walking thru life mostly alone, you are not lonely.   You have a constant companion from combat – Death.   It stands close behind, a little to the left.   Death whispers in your ear; “Nothing matters outside my touch, and I have not touched you…YET!”

Death never leaves you –  it is your best friend, your most trusted advisor, your wisest teacher.
Death teaches you that every day above ground is a fine day.
Death teaches you to feel fortunate on good days, and bad days — well, they do not exist.
Death teaches you that each day of life is sufficient unto itself.
Death teaches you that you can postpone its touch by earning serenity.

Another of the countless hidden costs of combat is loss of serenity/peace of mind.   Before battle you may have been pretty much even-tempered – that is; not hot-tempered but sort of cool — maybe even had more or less peace of mind.    After combat, however, many vets — including this writer:

  • Are super-quick to be impatient, annoyed, displeased, vexed;
  • Are intensely roused to fits of anger at the slightest irritation.

QUESTION:  Are you aware that you have changed?  Do you see this negative change in yourself?

ANSWER: The bad news is that most likely you do not see it because it is the Human Condition to “not see” negative changes in yourself that may be quite obvious to others.   This is why you may not know that combat has changed you in the head.   Consequently when a loved one (or a stranger) respectfully suggests that maybe you have changed — and perhaps not for the better — very often you may deeply resent it and perceive them as The Enemy.   (This is more bad news for loved ones.  The good news is that the vet’s woman can take a little step that helps her man big time.  See Writer’s Note [2], A PTSD Tidal Wave Is Starting To Crash Down Upon America and what you can do about it for a full discussion of this topic).

If you are one of those vets with a new pattern of instant anger, the bad news is that this is a dead giveaway that you suffer from combat-caused troubled mind, commonly called  “PTSD.”  (The good news is that you can read Writer’ Note [3], A Veteran’s Explanation of PTSD And How This Website Prevents Suicide for a full discussion of this topic and perhaps gain a helpful understanding of your situation).

If you are one of those vets who wonder why you have trouble maintaining successful relationships, wonder no more.   It is extremely difficult to do when:

You suffer from adrenaline poisoning and the only worthy people in your book are those addicted to thrill-seeking;
You cannot feel your soft, tender feelings;
Your mind is troubled and you are instantly angry over not much.

The good news is that serenity/peace of mind can be regained by a lot of prayer and acceptance.   Acceptance is the key to serenity.   This simple phrase holds a vast field of Understanding.   Acceptance is taking one step out of denial and accepting/allowing your repressed painful combat memories, and repressed coming home disappointments to be re-lived/suffered thru/shared with other combat vets – and thus de-fused

Each time you accomplish this dreaded but necessary act of courage/desperation:
The pain and tears get less than the time before;
More tormenting combat demons hiding in the darkness of your gut are thrown out into the healing sunlight of awareness, thereby disappearing them;
The less bedeviling combat demons, the more serenity earned. (See Writer’ Note [4], How and Why the Warrior’s Code Was Written — a step-by-step guide how to get out of PTSD and in to Serenity for a full discussion of this topic).

Serenity is, regretfully, rather an indistinct quality, but it is experienced as an immense feeling of contentment, peace of mind, fulfillment, and satisfaction deep down inside you:

  • From knowing  that you did your duty under fire no matter what it cost you to keep your word to do so, thereby proving to yourself — whether others know it or not — that you are a Warrior, a Man of Honor worthy of respect;
  • From being grateful to Higher Power/your Creator for sparing you.

It is an iron law of nature that such serenity lengthens life span to the max.

It is also an iron law of nature that to keep your serenity you must continue to keep your word of honor in civilian life else bad things may happen. It works like this. Unlike civilians who are not trained to keep their word, their honor — the importance of doing your duty and keeping your word of honor was drilled so deep into you by the Military that it became more important than life itself as proven by the fact that you were willing to die to keep it. Consequently if you throw away in civilian life something that important it is only natural to feel a sense of self-betrayal, loss of honor, un-worthiness, etc. These poisonous feelings from trashing your training may grow so powerful they destroy your self-esteem; your life may spiral down into the living death of self-hatred and you may think of suicide to end the horror you have made of your life.

The lesson: unlike un-trained civilians, veterans must keep their word, their honor/self-esteem in the civilian world like they did in the Warriors World lest their tough training triggers tragic times.

 

Down thru the dusty centuries it has always been thus.
It always will be, for what is seared into a man’s soul
who stands face to face with death
never changes.


Signed, Paul R. Allen
Former Combat Infantryman, U.S. Army 7th Infantry Division, Korea
Purple Heart Medal recipient
Life Member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH)
Life Member of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV)

  “Dedicated to absent friends in unmarked graves

Comment   To send the writer a message, click on this link    Comment

MESSAGE BY WRITER: You have complete freedom to use the Warrior’s Code of Honor and Writer’s Notes any way you wish (outside of re-writing them).   The whole idea is to get the Code and Writer’s Notes out there any way we can because they form a Group Therapy that is increasingly preventing combat vet suicides as word about this website spreads. 

I would appreciate that when you use the Code you cite this website at www.warriorscodeofhonor.com so people can visit the Responses to “The Code” section immediately below this message and read what Veterans, their loved ones, civilians, etc. say about the Code helping them, how this website is preventing suicides, etc. 

Acknowledgements:  Whatever good is done by this website has been facilitated by the following Patriots and Men of Honor:
Helmut Ermlich
Pete Oakander
Jim Weiss

 

© 2013 by Paul Allen. All rights reserved

  106 Messages to “The Code” (Explanatory material in brackets "()" supplied by writer)

  1. I cannot thank you enough for writing the code and for providing such a clear insight to what we go through!! I have never realized such things as written here until now. Thank you for providing this to Veterans of War!!! It is a great help to know someone out there is thinking about us.

    I am a struggling combat Veteran and 100% disabled, and feel worthless and ashamed for my being disabled and no longer able to be who i once was before war, and to be able to serve in the US Army anymore and many other negative feelings i deal with alone. I do not know how to come to terms with who i am now. Many others feel the same i know and i pray they find peace someday. Thank you again for your service and all you do!

  2. As a Marine of the Vietnam War (1968-69), I really appreciate this article. I have founded a non-profit to help get the word out about PTSD and its destruction of so many of our military servicemen and veterans. As a PTSD wounded Marine that does not qualify for a Purple Heart Award, I have learned of the invisibly wounded veterans’ disappointment in the lack of appreciation for the sacrifices they’ve given due to these wounds. Therefor, I have designed and am offering as a part of the Generations Of Warriors Project, the Crystal Heart Award to honor those invisibly wounded. I hope it will go a little ways toward giving respect for those so wounded.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crystal-Heart-Award/679379372158851?ref=hl
    http://www.gowarriorsproject.org/
    https://www.facebook.com/gowarriorsproject

  3. I enlisted in June 1973, Basic training at Ft. Ord CA, but was sent home after 3 weeks for Medical reasons. I always felt as though I had let my country down and those who were in the midst of the battle.
    I can not presume to know how these heroes feel or what they went through, but I do know about Honor and Integrity and live my life accordingly.
    As a way to fulfill my obligation of serving, I joined the Patriot Guard Riders in 2008 and have been on nearly 500 missions Honoring those who have served. I have looked into the eyes of the spouses of a KIA or ADD and seen the grief. I have wept with many family members of those who took their own life while serving our country. They who could not integrate back into the “normal” life here in the states.

    Many have done multiple tours “in country” because they need that rush! (the addictive rush of adrenaline, the addictive terrible THRILL you feel from dancing with death.)

    Thank you for writing this. For those of us who did not serve, it explains what these brave men and women had to endure in the service of our country. Blessings to all of them and to you for putting down into words what so many can not express openly.

    Carlton “Cruiser” Emmons
    Ride Captain
    North Texas Patriot Guard Rider
    “Standing for those who stood for US”

  4. Thank you. I never heard it expressed so precisely and eloquently. Perhaps this will help our loved ones and non-combatants understand us better.
    Thank you
    Jim “Doc” Canell HM2 CAP 2-1-6 & 2-3-5 RVN 1971

  5. Paul, as you know from my two prior comments, until recently I worked for the CSRA Wounded Warrior Care Project in the Greater Augusta, Georgia area (www.projectaugusta.org). I was responsible for developing a Warrior Care Team for over 700 wounded warriors who had been validated thru the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration, then certified by our Federal Recovery Coordinator to be veterans who are not working, have no money, were diagnosed with severe PTSD, and are near to killing themselves.

    My job was to visit these wounded warriors and see what could be done to save them.
    Your Warrior’s Code is the first document I gave them.
    I will never forget their uncontrollable tears and sobbing as they read it. They all swelled with emotion and commented that the Code is right on target and helped them understand their own PTSD.

    Thus I know from personal experience what a profound effect the Code has had in helping suicidal warriors finally understand their feelings and know that they are OK and normal. The understanding your Code provides – along with help from other wounded warriors trained to coach and counsel – gave them the ability to manage their PTSD.

    I am writing to let you know that your Warrior’s Code is the greatest document ever written about combat.
    I and countless once-suicidal veterans thank you for the wonderful job you did writing it.

    • Art, thank you for your kind words about my Warrior’s Code. I wrote it because I often wished that I had read something like it to save me the immense pain and confusion I suffered thru trying to understand why my life – or rather my living death – was as troubled/un-satisfactory as it was after my combat experience.

      I am glad that my words seem to help my fellow combat vets understand WHY they are like they are, because this understanding is the match that lights the candle showing the way out of the black cave of PTSD confusion into the bright sunlight of awareness. This comprehension, this knowing of self enables them, empowers them to manage their PTSD instead of it managing them.
      With great respect,
      paul

      (Art Robb’s two prior comments can be viewed under date of October 29, 2011 and November 10, 2012).

  6. Thank you for writing this code of honor. I am with a combat vet for almost 29 years. Always thought he was a control freak. Always had to sit facing the door if we went out to eat. Had over 50 cars would run from cops, race, all kinds of wild things. Never really knew what was up. Finally told me bit and pieces not sure what he did or who he was with, just said there is no record that he was ever there.

    As I read your code I began to understand what was up, your code describes his life to a T. I am wife number 4 never married longer than a year. We are together for 29 years. Some days are harder than others. I was raised with a religious background, I think that is what is helping me to understand, he can’t help who he is or what he has become. Just wish he could find serenity. Health is failing doesn’t want to do anything to change that. I think he thinks the only peace he will get is in death. Thank you for your code it has helped me just wish I would have known it before, I understand why he does the things he does. And it is a lot easier to tolerate the behavior.

    I am also a nursing assistant in long term care facility, and the code helps me there also when we get vets. Try to educate other na that we don’t know what they went through.

    Again thank you!! My husband is not one to get help he just suffers alone. I read the code to him and he started crying and said “see mom I told you I wasn’t a bad person” I said I never thought you were. For me this was an encouragement, thank you again!!

  7. Paul,
    I was an infantry soldier in Vietnam with the 9th Division in 1967 and 1968.
    During my duty stay I received two purple hearts before being air lifted back to the States.
    The last injury was from land mine shrapnel while on patrol in rice paddies around My Tho.

    In all the years since the war, I have looked for that “missing element” in my life.
    After reading your PTSD information about what is missing in combat vets lives (see FOOTNOTE 1 below) and a lot of other hard work, I now know what was missing in my life (peace of mind/serenity), that I am normal, and thanks to you, I now have some words for those fuzzy thoughts in my head.

    Thanks so much for what you have written. I will spread your information at my local Vet Center meetings in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
    Steve

    • FOOTNOTE (1) WRITER’S EXPLANATION OF THE “MISSING ELEMENT” IN COMBAT VETS LIVES

      (1) This writer thanks Steve Shull for his comment above because it gives me the opportunity to call attention to my WRITER’S NOTE (3): A Veteran’s Explanation of PTSD.
      In this Note I state that most combat vets come home with troubled minds because battle automatically makes your mind troubled (if you are fighting alongside me and your mind is NOT troubled you are too stupid to be safe so get out of here before you get me killed!). Having a troubled mind in combat 24/7, day after day, month after month becomes the “New Normal” and you do not think anything is wrong with it because it is not un-usual but the usual, common, everyday condition your mind is in when fighting for your life.

      (2) The problem is that many combat vets — including this writer – cannot tell any difference in their heads from High School to combat to back home again.
      To say this another way, when you try to look at the state of your mind historically, chronologically – from back then till now – many if not most people cannot see any change, everything looks the same, it seems like your head has always been the way it is, you cannot remember it ever being any other way.

      (3) Consequently vets think their troubled mind way of being is normal, and spend the rest of their lives searching for something they know not what, something that is missing in their lives.
      That “something” is peace of mind/serenity but they cannot name it, cannot describe what they are looking for because they do not know that their minds are troubled and long for peace of mind in the first place.

      (4) The problem is: how can you be content to stay at home with wife and kids?
      How can you hold and grow a job?
      How can you be happy/satisfied with your life?

      if you are possessed/driven by an un-conscious, restless urge; a nameless, faceless family disrupting, relationship shattering compulsion to go out and search for “something” you know not what, cannot name, but feel deep down inside that is missing in your life? (What I call “The Blind Search.”)

      (5) You can’t of course, so what often happens? You are discontented; get restless, bored and irritated super easy; abuse alcohol; abuse drugs; cheat on your wife; have multiple failed relationships/marriages; and various other behaviors that one may look back on as regrettable.

      a) It is only natural for you to think ill of yourself for being caught up in these kinds of behaviors;
      b) You keep wandering endlessly in a fog of confusion wondering what is “wrong” with you for being like you are;
      c) You come to the conclusion that you are a NOT OK person; which causes feelings of un-worthiness, feelings of being alone in this world, and so on;
      d) If these negative feelings about yourself spiral down into a self-hatred so virulent that life becomes a living hell, then thoughts of “ending it all” to obtain blessed relief from this poisonous self-loathing start to seem reasonable. (This is a description of someone who is a suicide risk).
      e) This troubled-state-of-mind can managed, however. How? The answer is quite simple and is only eleven words long: “Explain why the vet is like he is, save the vet.”

      (6) Explain why the vet is like he is, save the vet

      A) Once you know why you are like you are — that most of your troubles stem from, and are caused by, your “Blind Search” for the peace of mind/serenity that you lost in the military — and are NOT caused by some defect in you, are NOT caused by some flaw in your character;

      B) A light goes on in your head and you realize that you are OK — NORMAL for what you
      have been thru, repeat: OK and NORMAL (This is a description of someone who is no longer a suicide risk);

      C) This happy realization lifts the heavy iron manhole cover of confusion and self-accusation from atop your head, thereby allowing you to climb out of the darkness of self-doubt about your worthiness as a human being
      and in to the bright sunlight of OKness and NORMALCY, which empowers you to manage your PTSD instead of it managing you.

      In conclusion, I respectfully suggest reading my WRITER’S NOTE (3): A Veteran’s Explanation of PTSD for a full discussion of this topic.

      Signed, paul allen, writer of the Code and Writer’s Notes.

  8. Great Code. As a Marine from 1948-1952 and a veteran from the Chosin Reservoir ’til Dec.1, 1950. I was wounded and received the Purple Heart and Silver Star.
    You say that :”Those who have seen combat do not talk about it. Those who talk about combat have not seen it.”
    I used to think like that but I’ve gone to PTSD classes for years at the VA. I found that if you let it out you’ll be a better and more peaceful man for it.
    Semper Fi.

    • Tom, when I wrote those words near the top of the Code I was attempting to draw a distinction between authentic combat veterans and wannabe combat vets. Real ones don’t talk about combat in public to puff themselves up, phonies do. I was not talking about closed-to-the public PTSD group therapy. In that situation you are right on target, which is why I wrote down near the bottom of the Code that you had to share your repressed painful combat memories with other combat vets to disappear them and earn serenity.

      Thank you for bringing this up. You gave me the opportunity to clarify any confusion between my two different positions in the Code.
      With respect,
      paul allen.

  9. Just what is the Warriors code, I have read the article but I still don’t know about the code. I am a Vietnam Vet, I served as a Navy Hospital Corpsman with 3rd Recon Bn, 1967-to April 5 1968, I cam home shot to shit.

    please help me find this code. I am lost in my married livfe and can’t seem to find happienest any more since nam.
    Purple Heart Medal recipient

    • Stanley, civilians not trained to keep their word, their honor, can break it and sneak thru life more or less OK. This is the broad, easy path and many are to be found on it.

      It is different for combat veterans trained to keep their word, their honor. They must continue to rigorously keep it in civilian life like they did in battle. This is the narrow, difficult path, and few travel it, which is why many combat vets have bad things happen in their lives.

      To say this another way, civilians do not miss the proven honor they never had.
      Veterans on the other hand who once proved their honor under fire miss it — terribly (whether they are aware of it or not) — so much so that when they trash their training by throwing their honor away they stumble onto a slippery slope of ever-downward self-destruction.
      paul

  10. Paul
    No truer words have been spoken. I too am a combat veteran and suffer from the symptoms you wrote about in the Warrior’s Code. Civilians will never understand what we have been through or are willing to do for what we believe in. I commend you for writing our Code for all to read. Thank you Paul for encouraging me to write my story out so other combat veterans won’t feel so alone.

    (1) I was first deployed in 1990-1991 for the Gulf War as a US Marine. I never realized I had any problems from this experience because I never knew what PTSD was or what its symptoms were.

    (2) I became a Member of the Army National Guard and was activated and deployed 2004-2005 to Baghdad Iraq. We were based north of the airport next to the town of Abu Grahraib. It started out very badly. Our medical clinic was used as a transfer point for wounded soldiers. We would stabilize and transfer them to the Army Hospital in the Green Zone. I was not prepared for what we dealt with as combat lifesavers. We were mortared sometimes almost every day. We received stray rockets and lost five soldiers attached to our command just to the mortars. Countless other soldiers were wounded as well right there on our compound and we had some killed and wounded on medical convoys by IED’s.

    I never realized I was changing inside because we all were. When I came home on leave and was going through the airport in Dallas I had an outburst of rage, and didn’t know where it came from. We had veterans and civilians shaking our hands and telling us we were doing a good job. I lost it and yelled “why don’t you tell it to the families of my fallen brothers and sisters who gave the ultimate price!” It scared me because I have never been angry like that before.

    (3) After the deployment was over I was diagnosed with PTSD immediately. I had no idea what it was or what it can do. My second marriage was failing. I got angry with my unit and the whole National Guard. They put me back on active duty thinking this would help me. I was working in an armory all by myself 5 miles out of town –isolation. My anger and rage was getting worse, I was having nightmares, flash backs became more frequent, my marriage was at the end and I had no idea where to turn. My drinking started and then the thoughts of suicide became more prevalent daily. After failing in six attempts to kill myself I finally cried out for help. The National Guard had no idea what to do with me except send me to a local quack shrink that had no idea what combat PTSD was and told me I needed help! Well Duh!!!

    (4) I got myself enrolled into a PTSD program in the Denver Co VAMC. This was a 7 wk in-patient program for veterans who need help. I came out of that program with a new outlook on life and feeling good.

    Well my first mistake was going back to my active duty job with the National Guard, second was hoping that my wife would understand my severe PTSD and support me. Well both failed and I went downhill again. I was medically retired with 50% service connection for PTSD. I went back to my civilian job working for the US Postal Service. Well that was going from the frying pan to the fire. I ended up divorced, had no friends, was drinking and trying to cope with being a single father. I had a woman friend who stepped up and started helping me but things just weren’t working. I kept having thoughts of killing myself and ending all the horror, but the only thing stopping me was my daughter. I finally had to walk away from the Post Office after 16 years due to getting worse. I filed for increased compensation from VA but we all know how long that fight lasts. I had a few jobs here and there and ended up getting fired for pushing my limits and having no fear of death.

    (5) At present my drinking is still uncontrollable at times but I do stay with my meds even though the alcohol counteracts them. Nightmares are still prevalent and hypervigillance is just a part of life. Every day is a new challenge and some days I win and some days I lose. I have since remarried to the friend who was trying to help me and good for her I have made good progress. I have to commend her as a wonderful woman for putting up with me and the beast called PTSD. I have watched my stepson from a previous marriage go through the same things I am going through after he was discharged from the army. I wish he would get to the point and want help. I have learned you can’t force help on a soldier, they have to want the help and be ready to face the demons!

    I want to thank all those combat veterans before me and say welcome home! The help is here now and I hope every returning veteran takes full advantage of it before going off the deep end!

    Michael S. Pais
    USMC 88-92 — Desert Storm 90-91
    NM Army National Guard 1993-2008 — OIF 04-05 Baghdad
    Medically Retired 2008 SFC

    • Michael your honesty is breathtaking and will help many combat vets whose lives after combat are filled with PTSD-caused problems that I call “Train Wreaks — it hurts them. It works like this.

      Most combat vets suffer from PTSD and some feel so down and alone they become suicide risks. What would help them is to see comments from other vets about once having been down but getting back up again. This honesty would show down vets they are not alone in this world like they thought but instead are standing in the middle of a crowd, and that can get back up again. This naturally grows suicide prevents. As writer, I attempt to remedy this hurtful silence by being honest about my own down, train-wreck filled life in the following Writer’s Notes:
      WRITER’S NOTE (3) A Veteran’s explanation of PTSD and how this website prevents suicides;
      WRITER’S NOTE (4) How and Why the Warrior’s Code Was Written, a step-by-step guide how to get out of PTSD and in to serenity.

      In these notes I reveal that I am a recovering alcoholic and junkie, was once locked down in the Psycho Ward of a VA hospital and kept heavily sedated 24/7 for a long time because I was a high suicide risk — then I got up, got clean of alcohol and drugs and wrote the Warrior’s Code of Honor.

      I revealed this down part of my life in the hope that a vet struggling alone in the black, waking nightmare of PTSD (a potential suicide risk) will realize that he is not alone and that his train-wreck life is NORMAL for what he has been thru, repeat: NORMAL! He/she will also see that it is normal to get back up again. This is a description of a suicide prevent, which is what this website is all about.

      But there are only three vets other than I who have been honest about their train-wreck lives:
      (1) April 22, 2012 John C. Mcalister, after I encouraged him to do so, commented that he once had many PTSD caused problems, thoughts of suicide, etc.
      (2) December 19, 2012 Wayne D. Paterson, after I encouraged him to do so, commented that he also once had many PTSD caused problems, thoughts of suicide, etc.
      (3) May 20, 2013 Stanley Sellers, without any encouragement from me, commented that has read the Warriors Code but still doesn’t know what it is, and asked me to help him find The Code because he is lost and can’t find any happiness since Viet Nam. I replied to the best of my ability.

      I was beginning to think that these three guys and I were the only honest combat vets in America when thank God you showed up Michael and courageously admitted that you too had a down period but clawed your way mostly back up. I have encouraged many vets to be honest about what a terrible struggle it is to construct a life worth living after combat, but only the four of you have the courage to do so. This makes a grand total of five of us who care enough about our fellow combat veterans to be brutally honest about the dark places the cancer of the soul called “PTSD” has taken us. Unlike virtually all the others who made comments on this website, we five do our duty like back in battle and show down vets that they are not alone in this world and that it is possible for him/her to get back up again like we did.

      But five are not enough. It may be helpful to think of the “Combat Vet Down/Up Experience” in terms of archers with bows and arrows standing on the playing field of a huge ballpark/stadium at night with the lights off, the seats filled with down vets sitting in the darkness of potential suicide.
      I shoot my arrow of honesty up into the seats and light the way for down vets who connect with/relate to my individual story;
      John Mcalister, Wayne Paterson, Stanley Sellers and now you Michael shoot your arrows of honesty and light the way for down vets who connect with/relate to y’alls individual story.

      But we provide only five tiny lights, not enough to fully illuminate the playing field of life. The rest of the down vets remain in the darkness of potential suicide. What is wanted and needed are more combat vets to do their duty and become archers shooting arrows of honesty until the whole place is filled with the healing light of truthfulness about the “Combat Vet Down/Up Experience,” thereby turning the key in the suicide lock and opening the door onto an open field of suicide prevention to which there are no bounds.

      I will conclude with a challenge written by my best friend, “The Beast” part of me I had to activate to survive the savagery of war: Those of you who wish to make a comment on this website — grow some balls, do your duty and get honest!
      Signed,
      paul (“THE BEAST”) allen

      THE BEAST TO MICHAEL
      Michael, your magnificently written, brutally honest comment went up to the Warrior’s Code website this morning, along with my poor attempt to plead for help in our lost cause of getting honesty from our fellow vets thereby helping our fellow vets. I salute you for having enough courage to be honest.
      With great respect, paul.

      MICHAEL TO THE BEAST
      Paul, I saw my story on the website. I am proud that you put it up and my hope is maybe it will save at least one combat vet from ending life. I have found a lot of them hide the real truth, hell I was one of them! Hopefully more and more will come forward, share their stories and help others in similar situations. Let me know if I can do anything else. Michael

  11. Patriot Paul R. Allen, let me congratulate for an extraordinary article. I have no words to express my gratitude to you on this major contribution you have done to our wounded veterans.

    As a Commander of the MOPH Department of Puerto Rico (MOPH = Military Order of the Purple Heart), I would like to request your permission to translate this article into Spanish, so many veterans in Puerto Rico could take advantage of what you wrote. Although, many of us could understand English perfectly, others don’t.

    Yours in Patriotism,
    Edwin Fernandez, Purple Heart Medal recipient

    REPLY BY WRITER

    Edwin, as it says down at the bottom of the Code, you have complete freedom to use the Warrior’s Code of Honor and Writer’s Notes any way you wish (outside of re-writing them). The whole idea is to get them out there any way we can because they form a Group Therapy that is increasingly preventing combat vet suicides as word about this website spreads.

    I would appreciate that when you use the Code you cite this website at http://www.warriorscodeofhonor.com so people can visit this “responses to the Code” section and read what Veterans, their loved ones, civilians, etc. say about the Code helping them, how this website is preventing suicides, etc.

    With great respect,
    paul

    • Edwin, as it says down at the bottom of the Code, you have complete freedom to use the Warrior’s Code of Honor and Writer’s Notes any way you wish (outside of re-writing them). The whole idea is to get them out there any way we can because they form a Group Therapy that is increasingly preventing combat vet suicides as word about this website spreads.

      I would appreciate that when you use the Code you cite this website at http://www.warriorscodeofhonor.com so people can visit this “responses to the Code” section and read what Veterans, their loved ones, civilians, etc. say about the Code helping them, how this website is preventing suicides, etc.

      With great respect,
      paul

  12. Your article really hits the target. I will forward it to my MOPH Chapters officers (MOPH = Military Order of the Purple Heart) and will have it posted in our Chapters News Letter.
    John D. Dismer
    Purple Heart Medal Recipient

  13. Christ man, where have you been? I am also a Purple Heart Medal recipient, an ex-marine who was in-country (Viet Nam) in 1965-66. I didn’t have a clue until I read your Warrior’s Code website and can now understand what has been going on with my life, or rather living death. Thanks Bro, Semper Fi! I am going to distribute your words to my people.

    Thank you!
    Purple Heart Medal recipient

  14. Extraordinary depth and breadth of expression on the visceral sensations and alterations experienced by combat veterans.
    All who approach honestly will find at least ‘some’ understanding. Some will find ‘all’.
    With gratitude,
    Semper Fidelis,
    Jack Harkins USMC Retired, MOPH ‘Sunny Jones’ Chapter 49, San Diego California
    Purple Heart Medal recipient

  15. I’ve been married twenty years to a combat vet (disabled Nam). You got it right in this post (Warrior’s Code). Thank you for sharing. You are not alone.

  16. Good job Paul !!! I see you worked hard to recover from ptsd, and then turned around to help your fellow soldiers, I like that. Your messages are right on, and many Veterans will benefit from your hard earned ptsd insights. I posted your website on my ptsd blog at [http://veteranssuicides.weebly.com] so your words will get more exposure. Hope today’s Veterans pay real close attention to what you have said, the faster they face the problem the better. Thank you Sir, for caring about other vets, and hope you really enjoy the life you have left my friend.
    Don Sexton

    • Mr Sexton, thank you so much for helping me in my mission of spreading the “Code”.
      This reply was written by Elaine A. Autin responding for Paul Allen who is in ill health right now

  17. I just read the Warrior’s Code in the North Carolina Legion News quarterly paper. I truly hope that a copy is sent to all medical facilities that treat veterans. A copy should be given to all staff and a copy to all veterans seeking treatment regardless of their ailment. It will not only give the medical professionals an idea of who they are working with but if a copy is given to the veteran it may just let him/her know who THEY are working with. It certainly made me take a closer look in the mirror. In doing so I seen a person who wasn’t all that bad. He just needed to remember in this new world — civilian — it’s not always a matter of life and death and remember for many it never has been. Semper Fidelis, GySgt USMC Never Retired.

  18. From: Brenda Garth (sent from Warrior’s Code of Honor Website)
    Subject: your talent, your writings, my gratitude

    Message Body:
    The Warrior’s Code of Honor was shared by a Vietnam Vet Friend, it spoke to my heart like nothing I’ve ever read before. Thank you doesn’t seem adequate but I am sincerely thankful for your thoughts, your talent, your writings & most of all for sharing!

    As the Mother of an Infantry Marine Son & a Soldier Daughter who spent a year in Afghanistan — both now veterans — beside being married to a Vietnam Vet, I am enlightened in a way suspected but never validated. Your words have allowed for a clearer view, understanding, & hope not only for my loved ones but for others. I would like to have permission to share with other Mothers,Wives,Sisters, Aunts, Grandmothers — as well as all the men in their lives — on our website at http://www.SemperFiSisters.com. We are also on facebook and again with permission, I would like to share and direct others to your website to read for themselves.

    Also with your permission I would like to share on another facebook site for Combat Injured Veterans from Iraq & Afghanistan called ”Forgotten Coast Warrior Weekend”. This is an organization that I participate with that honors our wounded annually in our small coastal community of Port St. Joe, Florida.

    Again, with deepest gratitude I salute you Sir for your ability to express your thoughts which reflect the thoughts/feelings of so many!
    THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE AND WELCOME HOME ! ! !

    A Grateful American Wife, Mother, Daughter, Sister, of Veterans of War ~
    Brenda Garth

    • Brenda you sent your email to Paul R. Allen – the writer of the Warrior’s Code. You are getting a reply from Elaine Achor Autin. I have done a lot of work with Paul distributing the Code and am helping him respond to the increasing flood of comments coming in as he is in poor health right now. It is so rewarding to be a part of something skyrocketing international.

      Paul enjoyed your interesting and well-written comments, remarking that you really know what you are talking about as you are living right there in the eye of the PTSD hurricane.

      You asked for permission to distribute the Code. As it says on the website, you have complete freedom to use the Warrior’s Code of Honor any way you wish outside of re-writing it. The whole idea is to get the Code out there any way we can. We are truly honored that you are going to put the Code on so many sites.
      Yours in patriotism,
      Elaine Achor Autin for Paul Allen

  19. Well said my Brother. Too many have no understanding or take the time to try to understand what it means to be a combat vet. Hopefully, sites like these and words like yours may help! Many chords were struck while reading the Warrior Code. Being a Vietnam Vet, I have battled the demons of survival and anger for a long time. Why did I survive and others didn’t? Why didn’t my Country support me when I came home? Why was everyone so angry at me? I could only communicate with others like myself. To this day I don’t do well with strangers or in crowds. Two failed marriages and 20 plus jobs is not an enviable record for a life.

    Mostly it is HONOR. For a long time I was devoid of honor, doing saying and being whatever I wanted. It took some time but now I see clearly and honestly. I now am proud of being a Combat Veteran and I know I am not alone in the struggle for sanity and peace. The words of the Warrior Code bring things more into focus making it even more clear that what I was and am is just that — nothing more and surely nothing less. I did what I could do to the best of my ability and survived. I am grateful for that and take each day given to me as a bonus to honor those who didn’t make it.
    Wayne D. Paterson

  20. I am a Nam Vet. Could have gotten a PH, (Purple Heart) but didn’t think I really needed one. Thank you for the Warrior’s Code. I now know why I am the way I am. From what I remember was attached to the 9th for awhile in Dong Tam. I left after some bad shit went down. Speaking of the high (adrenaline), I am 62 and the sicle man (Death) almost got me on my bike last month. Yea I was really moving going into the turn, but hell at the time I was feeling pretty good. Now I understand why I am the way I am. Thank you, I mean man. Thank you.

    Have I broken my word? To this day I think not. Have many around me have broken there’s, most definitely. I said to myself where in the hell did these people come from. Of course this is after I sobered up and after killing the devil for 40 or so years. I am even married, and got two grown boys. For the high, the weeper (Death) all most got me last month. After reading this (Warrior’ Code) it’s about time I start looking at things differently.
    Thank you.
    Paul Gagne

  21. I cannot say that all of the words (of the Warrior’s Code) brought me any love. I remember feeling proud to serve multiple deployments. I remember being afraid to come home because I didn’t think my family could love me and that I couldn’t hide who I am. I am not Infantry or Special Ops. I was willing to do whatever was necessary to serve the mission and my comrades’ well. I hated and rejoiced in the death of the enemy. I didn’t cry when others did because I thought that they needed somebody who was still on the mission. I didn’t comfort anybody who needed to feel loved. I had a friend who was gung-ho until he couldn’t get the memories of his first kill out of his mind. He talked to me about it and I told him that here and now is not the place to rationalize… The mission forbids it, stay focused. It was my last conversation with him before he died. I am not an adrenalin junkie (like in the Code) but I want to feel free. I feel no freedom at home. I am struggling to be human and God is helping me. I understand camaraderie and loyalty. I even have a special love for the Soldiers that I learned to trust. My bond is with them. For the most part, I don’t like to obligate myself to anybody but I am always obligated to them. I just can’t romanticize the whole thing. Sorry.

  22. You have been there and lived it. Those that haven’t do not and will not understand you or the screaming silence within your daily life. Each day you ignore Death’s tap on you shoulder and his whispers to “do it” is another battle won in the never ending life-changing patrol that you volunteered for those many years ago when you answered the call.
    “Thank you” was not spoken to us when we physically came “home” and as it is now become the “in” thing to do from most of the untouched ones. The words are hollow and without feeling or meaning, we nod and give an equally hollow reply of “Thanks” to someone who will never know or feel the thrill of a well- placed shot, watching the pink mist of your enemy’s life blood as he loses the dance.
    Thank you, my Brother in Arms for your writing.

  23. I am a VN veteran 1965-66, I never received a Purple Heart and didn’t want one. I DIDN’T understand what I was doing until I read your paper (Warrior’s Code). I was trying to pretend I was normal, just like every one else. And I thought I had succeeded until now. I will now try to take who I have become and now I will try to heal.

    Thank you, my Brother

  24. Paul,

    I believe you have found the words that are understandable to so many Warriors back physically from the wars.

    I have even encountered military of non-overseas duty that exhibit symptoms of PTSD. I believe that they feel a depth of remorse for our fallen and over compensate for their gift to their Country.

    Never, ever seen or heard anyone explain like you did what drives Warriors into PTSD syndrome and unconscious need for that adrenaline rush. I was luckily because I was in LAPD within six months of returning from Vietnam/USMC, 1970.

    Now after 35 years as a Police Officer and 6 years retired, I have always referred to my self as an adrenaline junkie as the the LAPD was a perfect fit for me as it was a jungle every night with murder and mayhem every minute in LA as a cop. I lived for the rush of wholesale lives lost in the big city.

    Now I understand why it was so fulfilling for me.

    Humbly,

    Terry McCarty

    Please share with the other Warriors who need some answers as to why they feel soo lost in civilian life.

    USMC 1966-1970.
    AMVETS Post 18
    Orange County

  25. Dear Paul,
    You have captured all the aspects of the impact of exposure to combat trauma and what brings healing. I am grateful that you have shared your heart and soul for the purpose of helping others. I am in a position to broadcast this code broadly and will do so through the medium of our Deployment Health News which is a daily digest of all issues affecting deployment health and adjustment.
    Also, I will circulate widely to other providers, colleagues and warriors. I would like to speak to you about possible participation in an international trauma society presentation. You may reach me anytime at the email that i signed in with.
    Sincerely,
    Vic

    • Dear Miss Victoria, as we say here in New Orleans, in answer to your question about my possible participation in an international trauma society presentation, I am willing to do what I can to help out. Please advise. paul

  26. Very fine article for any veteran and family. Now I understand why I do some of the things I do.

    Thanks,
    Bill
    Co C/6/31st Infantry Regiment/9th Infantry Division
    Nam 68-69

  27. Hi Paul, greetings from AUSTRALIA.
    thank you for your Warrior’s Code. I appreciated your penmanship in the way you h ave the ability to put into words what many men cannot. I appreciated the fact that you had to endure so much and experience such trauma and hell so that you could write it.

    thank you for your service to the free world, and may we,those civilians who you represented, really appreciate not only your service but those who have served since and have yet to serve.

    May I have your permission to put your writings on the website for vcministriesoffaith.com please?

    Thank you, God bless you with His peace among your travail, so that peace wins the battle more each day.
    God bless
    Sincerely
    Carla Evans, Chaplain
    Australian PeaceKeepers/PeaceMakers Veterans Association – Victoria
    Veterans of the Vietnam War Inc.

    Carla
    Voices from Voyager : HMAS Voyager / HMAS Melbourne, 1964 / by Carla Evans

    • Carla
      You sent the below email to Paul Allen – the author of the Code. You are getting a reply to your request from Pete Oakander. I am helping Paul distribute the Code to as many as possible. Which means you have permission to use the Code any way you want outside of re-writing it. Feel free to download the Code from the website – http://www.militarycodeofhonor.com/WarriorsCodeofHonor/ – and incorporate it into your website. We would appreciate it though if you would provide the Codes website as a link in yours.
      Yours in Patriotism
      Pete Oakander for Paul Allen

  28. You have never lived until you have almost died and been left behind .
    This Warriors’s Code of Honor will make a difference in my life.
    A/1/8th Cav. (ABN) Jumping Mustangs Vietnam ’65-’66
    Historic Lz Mary 23:45 hrs.03 Nov.’65
    First night air assault into enemy held territory under enemy fire in history of The United States Army .
    “Smitty”/ “Onezero”

  29. I served on the King Cobra Guntruck in Vietnam, Central Highlands, in the 597th Trans, 8th Group during 71-72 as a 50 Cal Gunner, our job was to go into the Kill Zone and Provide Cover Fire, It was a job I volunteered for and Never No Regrets and this Warriors Code of Honor couldn’t have been written any better, this gave me a few chills reading it and just want to Thank You, Bruce Bourget

    • Bruce
      Thank you for your comments. If you would really like to help us get the word out about the Code then I highly encourage you to help us do that by going to the websites you suggested and having the webmaster of those websites add the Code links to them – if not just download the Code to them outright. This is a group effort at distribution. This is not Paul responding to you but Pete Oakander, US Navy, Rivron 13, Vietnam 69-70. I have done a lot of work with Paul on this and am helping him out as he is in poor health right now.
      Yours in Patriotism
      Pete

  30. Thank you for this masterful website. I am a former Marine Grunt who served in VietNam and collected a handful of Purple Hearts. I read and then re-read your work and was mesmerised by how accurate it was. I wish we had known about PTSD forty plus years ago. It would have saved alot of pain for alot of guys.

    Semper Fi,

    Tom Shabel Purple Heart Medal recipient

  31. I believe the code is accurate and I thank you Paul for composing it, I like it. It may well prove helpful for my wife to read it, before bless her heart she becomes ex-number three…

    What I want to say is this. VA Hospitals and so called PTSD professionals are probably great for the most part. However, I encountered the belly of the beast at one VA “PTSD” Clinic, one renowned for good work as I was told. I entered this facility in April of this year in okay condition having been with a local Vet Center PTSD group for some time. I left the program of my own accord (actually I was driven out, but that is a long story) a LOT worse than when I walked in, again of my own accord, seeking help for my PTSD.

    Again I thank you for putting into words so accurately how I feel.

  32. Your words are a necessary glimpse through the window and into the core of my being, and I thank you for helping me to re-ignite the spark of adrenaline that helps to make sense of the true basis and strength of my life.

    I have briefly revealed but the surface of my experience, knowing that the depth of being what we were, and what we went through, will only ever truly be understood by those that lived and came home from battle.

    The Honor you speak of, is the strength that forever binds us together, “Brothers in arms”. Many words are unnecessary between us.

    It is somewhat strange that the guilt within for not dying with my Brothers, is also the strength that keeps me alive. Many of those that will forever be close to my heart died in battle, yet the Honor within shall always live strong, for that is what we are, and that is the strength that forever binds us all…

    Danny Binkier – 3rd/47th/9th Infantry Division – Mobile Riverine Force – Mekong Delta – March 3rd, 1968 through March 3rd, 1969

  33. As a sentry/ scout dog handler, I know what its like to be fired upon, whether it be indirectly or from a sniper(s). I personally clung to every word, read and reread this code. As I read,I experienced mini flashbacks in my “world of combat” as only I can relate to which is buried very deeply in my mind. When I do express my own most secretive experiances with a non-combat proven vet or a person who was never in the military, the look on their face is usually of compassion, guilt and confusion all rolled together — or one of the three. But yet, understanding none of it.
    Being in PTSD group sessions has been benifical when comments or opinions have been stated by other group members and/or the doctor who is heading up these sessions. I take nothing away from these doctor’s — young and old alike– education and intelligence on the subject matter but I would much rather listen an idividual who has the education AND the experiance. I truly hope that all of the military branches and the VA look to the young men and women leaving the active military today, will entice or guide them towards a future in the mental health sector. Their knowlegde and experiance Will make difference!
    I hope all of this makes sense as my mind is know longer as sharp as it once was a year or two ago.
    Sgt. Michael L. Warner; U.S. Air Force K-9 Combat Dog Handler & Instructor; SSgt. U.S.Air Force, Reserves; Retired

  34. One portion the writer talks about earning serenity, and I quote:

    “Serenity is earned by a lot of prayer and acceptance.
    Acceptance is taking one step out of denial and accepting/allowing your repressed, painful combat memories to be re-lived/suffered thru/shared with other combat vets – and thus de-fused.
    Each time you accomplish this dreaded act of courage/desperation:
    the pain gets less;
    more tormenting combat demons hiding in the darkness of your gut are thrown out into the healing sunlight of awareness, thereby disappearing them;
    the less bedeviling combat demons, the more serenity earned.”

    Those who read this all the way through were there and knew it. Those who did not read it or finish it would never understand it anyway. It creates a “Damn, I wish I could say that” moment. Thanks to the writer.

    Keep up the fight.
    Bill Black/ Former Army Platoon Commander and Western Writer

  35. The Warrior’s Code of Honor is a powerful document that ought to be in every veteran’s home, in the home of the vets who did not return or did return wounded in body, heart, and spirit . . . We have just passed another Veterans Day, and on the next one, you should be at The Wall (Viet Nam Memorial) reading this Warrior’s Code.

    Thank you. I wish you well.

  36. THE AMERICAN CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IS ROUTINELY PERPETRATING INJUSTICE ON VETERANS SUFFERING FROM PTSD

    Dear Paul, about a year ago while working with the local Augusta, GA Wounded Warrior Project, I met an Army doctor who had served several tours in Iraq in forward operating medical units. I learned he was badly wounded when his medical unit came under heavy RPG and mortar attack. Most of the wounded he was treating died, but even though he was wounded, he continued to try and save as many lives as he could. I knew from his demeanor that he had severe PTSD. I gave him a copy of your Warrior’s Code of Honor. Later, his wife told us the doctor cried and read the Warriors Code over and over.

    Recently, this doctor made newspaper headlines for prescribing factious prescriptions for pain pills of which he was using. He was arrested; his medical license revoked and is awaiting sentencing for prison. He lost his wife and family and a medical license, everything he worked so hard to get.
    Nowhere in the newspaper or the courts did anyone recognize this fine, brave doctor has severe PTSD. They just treated him like a common criminal. No one took time to ask why this doctor was taking heavy amounts of pain killers. No one took time to research the doctors past.
    So much for all the “experts” in PTSD or all the money the government is wildly spending to help our warriors with PTSD. It is sickening and outrageous to see a good man and courageous combat warrior like this doctor be treated like a criminal.

  37. thank you for the Warrior’s Code

    Fallujah (Iraq) combat veteran. Searching for ways to deal with loss of friend’s. No one understands how there are days when silence isn’t even enough. The intense, throbbing, immense pressure in my head…it feels as if my head is containing the blast of an ied. I can not explaint to loved one’s…they’ll never understand nor do I want them to know what I have done. I hope your journey ends with you finding peace brother…it seems so elusive.

  38. One, we were a company. Two, they called us infantry. Three, we went to Vietnam . Four, no one gave a damn.

    Peace be with you and thank you for your outstanding insights on the life of combat veterans. And, the Moon never beams…

    God Bless and Semper Fi,

    Tom Holloran, USMC – RVN – Class of 1967/68.

  39. Greetings from ENGLAND . Thank your for the Warrior’s Code of Honor, a powerful work. I have it up on the United Kingdoms War Poetry website. I am sure it will impress and move very many people and further the understanding of the price soldiers pay for doing their duty. Thank you again and very best wishes to you and all your brave friends.

    David Roberts, Editor of War Poetry , Editor of Minds at War http://www.warpoetry.co.uk

  40. Thank you for the Warrior’s Code. Although it well warrants being printed, framed, engraved, etched in stone and displayed for all to see, it will probably remain among the few who really understand the message it conveys.

    Yours in patriotism,

    Tim Armstrong. B5/7 1st Air Cav Div Nam 68-69.
    Member of MOPH (Military Order of the Purple Heart), member number L22751. Purple Heart Medal recipient.

  41. Thanks for the wonderful expression of the thoughts of a combat veteran. Too bad all our fellow Patriots’ families can’t read it. I want to tell you how much I appreciate what you have been doing. You are right that ONLY combat wounded veterans can truly understand the meaning of our Code of Honor. Our camaraderie is hard to explain to anyone who was not there.

    Joe Kovar, rifleman, E Company, 101st Reg., 26th Div. , France June 1944 thru Battle of Bulge all the way across Germany liberating extermination camps, etc., to meet the Russians coming from the other way 1945. Bronze Stars with V for Valor, member of MOPH (Military Order of the Purple Heart). Purple Heart Medal recipient.

  42. My thanks to the author for putting into words what so many of us feel. My only addition would be that you don’t have to wear the Purple Heart to qualify for the Warrior’s Code of Honor.

    I was fortunate to serve in Vietnam as an Infantryman for 24 months and not be wounded severely enough to seek the Purple Heart. And it was not for a lack of opportunity since in addition to my CIB (Combat Infantryman’s Badge) I also received Silver Stars and Bronze Stars with V device (V for valor).

    My point is that there are many of us who do not wear the Purple Heart who are as touched by and relate to this wonderful piece of prose as any others. My thanks to the author and thanks from all of the many Warriors from many conflicts for who you are and what you did. Others will never understand.

    (name & email address withheld at sender’s request. This email can be authenticated by the hard copy in my files. Paul R. Allen)

  43. The Warrior’s Code is a marvelous work. There’s real truth in every line of it. I was a Battalion Scout with the 1st Bn, 14th Reg, 25th Infantry Division in Korea . My closest comrade in my squad ultimately died of his injuries when we were closely struck by artillery fire.

    I have to say that the day in and day out stress was a life changing occurrence for me as indicated in the
    “CODE”. I have never been able to return to making music as I could prior to that war. There is just not much of an attention span since. God Bless and keep our soldiers. Truly, they will never come home the same.

    E. Riggs. Member of MOPH (Military Order of the Purple Heart)Chapter 568, Oklahoma City
    Purple Heart Medal recipient

  44. Thank you sir for the Warrior’s Code. I have been scratching my head asking myself “what the hell is wrong with me” since 1979. The Warrior’s Code sums it up very well. I sent the Code to some friends by the way. Thank you again.

    David Bantam USMC (Ret.)

  45. Thank you my friend. You have put into words what I have searched for these many years. I know where you are coming from and what you are trying to explain. Even though I did get lucky and not get wounded, I did go through (all) the rest. May God watch over you and let you continue to talk over your left shoulder (to your best friend and teacher — death) for as long as you want.

    Gunny U.S.M.C. Vietnam 70-71

  46. Thank you for your excellent Warrior’s Code expressing my thoughts. What you said is always on my mind and deeply embedded in my heart by the USMC. It is hard enough for civilians to understand our mentality then add in the Marine Corps and they would never come close to understanding that combination.

    If I had to do Vietnam all over again, knowing the damage and pain it has caused in my life and relationships I’d say, “play it again Sam.” I was wounded several times in combat but have only one Purple Heart, in Golf 2nd Bn. 5th Marines. We thought Purple Hearts were bad luck. There was a flaw in our armor and we only received a Purple Heart if medivaced (medically evacuated). This policy was probably invented by an officer to keep down the number of Wounded in Actions. The one Purple Heart I received is very special to me for all the reasons you have already listed in the Code, plus the fact that I was awarded the Purple Heart on the exact same day as my Grandfather 50 years before. I am a life member of the Disabled Veterans of America (DAV), Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH)
    and the 1st Marine Division.

    Semper fi,
    Jesse Lyon
    Purple Heart Medal recipient

  47. The Warrior’s Code is marvelous and opens the civilian mind to the demons of combat. I am sharing this with family members – especially one who is planning on being a psychologist and who will, if God agrees with her plans, become the wife of a career military man. The second is a high school upper classman exploring the fields of healthcare to decide where she wants to specialize. Your words of wisdom may answer that question.

    God bless you for helping us better understand the warrior’s emotional battles as they return home. I am a post military wife whose husband and son both served their country in foreign lands and faced the (inner) conflict you described. Thank God, as a wife and mother, both cheated death and came home safely. We were able to communicate with love and understanding. Sometimes the mind questions “why not me” – but has faded – not erased – over the years.

    Thank you for the Warrior’s Code, and I will help spread the word about it for sure. As “Tiny Tim” would say – “God bless us, every one!”

    Edna Wood

  48. Just read this enlightening Warrior’s Code of Honor. I have read and re-read it several times to see if I could find a Chink in it. I could not. As a 2 Purple Heart Medal recipient, I relate 100 per cent to every word! I have had all the symptoms of PTSD for 45 years. I have come to the conclusion that my PTSD will completely stop at the edge of my open grave. Until then, I forge ahead with these “soul and spirit wounds” committed to stay sane and help my fellow warriors with their own unseen wounds. Semper Fidelis.

    Art J. Ramirez, MCL (Marine Corps League), Texas
    Purple Heart Medal recipient

  49. Thank you for the Warrior’s Code! I needed that.

    A former Marine, RVN 1967-1968 Live member MCL (Marine Corps League) and DAV (Disabled American Veterans).

    Dennis DiPasquale Purple Heart Medal recipient

  50. The Warrior’s Code is moving and Grimly True — too bad Hollywood is not tuned in to it. The overwhelming feeling I have sometimes is sadness for the deaths of the brave soldiers then my age – 19 — and wonder at my survival — why me?

    Best patriotic regards,

    Charlie, former Pfc. Mortar Squad, Co. C, 32nd Inf. Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, WWII.
    Member of MOPH. Purple Heart Medal recipient

  51. I was a door gunner on a Huey Uh-1D troop transport in Viet Nam and have seen the trauma of war on ones soul that you describe in the Warrior’s Code. I have shared your work with many peers and it would be a shame not to include it in my book of poetry to be published in the near future.
    Thank you
    James Hackbarth

  52. Thank you for writing the Warrior’s Code. I have never found the words to describe those feelings to anyone. To this day I seek the adrenaline rush. Nothing in my life is missed as much as combat. There has never been words in me to explain that. You have put the reasons down in black and white and made it understandable. There are a few people I would like to send the Code to but probably never will. None the less, thanks for putting it down in black and white.

    Bernie Brown, 2nd/60th, 9th Div. Viet Nam 66/67

    • “There is no hunting like the hunting of man. And those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.”

      Ernest Hemingway, “On the Blue Water,” Esquire, April 1936.

  53. This Vietnam vet and retired Master Sergeant wishes to say thank you to the author for putting the Warrior’s Code to paper for all to see. It brought to light many of my own characteristics and quite a few of my behaviors. More importantly it describes perfectly my feelings. I cannot imagine any improvement on your written words. They clearly bring to light what is life for many of us and provide an understanding of why we are as we are. particularly identify with the expectation that people keep their word – no matter what. Don’t have time for those that don’t and quite frankly prefer the company of the very few veteran friends that I have contact with.

    Vietnam 1964-65 / 52nd CAB / Huey Gunship Crew Chief. MDARNG 1984-94, 20th SF GP, 1/115th Light Inf, Maryland Military Academy / Ops Sgt. Transfer to USAR 1994-98 Region One NCO Academy FIG / NCOES Instructor. Retired E-8 1998.

    Godspeed to you.

    Les Baker

  54. I was a Marine Sgt. with the ”First Battalion, 7th Marine’s, First Marine Division, the ”106” Recoilless Rifle Platoon, attached to ”Suicide Charlie” Company featured in the H.B.O. Series ”Pacific.” I am a 2 Time Purple Heart Recipient…Lost a Leg,..Shot in the Face..I didn’t Duck… Left side paralyzed and lost the other ‘kneecap’…Had ‘Hand to Hand’ Combat also.

    The WARRIOR’S CODE Makes Sense!…Put’s things into Perspective as only a ”Warrior” would know. In closing, the Code is ”OUTSTANDING” THANKS.

    Pastor frank orzio. Purple Heart Medal recipient.

  55. Concerning the Warriors Code, I sincerely appreciate what you wrote. I really do admire the fact that you could put into words the things I have felt for forty plus years. Yes, I was there ( Viet Nam ) in 1968, 1969 and 1970. I did thirty months service time, but only flew 16 combat missions. I can’t discuss the missions, but I can relate to every thing you had to say…

    A sincere “Thank You” for your service and your Warrior’s Code.

    Sincerely, Louis Kline. USN

  56. Dear Brother of another Mother, thank you saying what I have been trying to figure out for myself for 61 years. Now I understand why I am like I am. I am a Korean Vet, a rifleman in the 7th Infantry Division. Thank you my friend for going thru the pains of figuring out the problem of being “Battle-Rattled.”(now called “PTSD”). I am grateful for your efforts in getting ourselves straightened out again. I had concussion a couple of times from Artillery but nothing serious enough to get a Purple Heart. I also served in Viet Nam, 1966. I retired in 1970 as an E-7. I made Corporal three times before I could keep it. Thirty days in the stockade as well. Too many times of missed formations from drinking “Panther Piss” after Korea. I screwed up my first marriage because I came home basically crazy, and wanted to go back to Korea.

    I am a member of “Rolling Thunder SC, Chapter 2, and will see that all members get a copy of the Warrior’s Code. I have since written a book about my life and will use the Warriors Code in it because I can without question speak for it’s validity and how it would have saved so much agony in my life had I known about the coming home hell, etc in the Code.
    Thanks, Robert (Bad Bob) Lowery U. S. Army – Retired.

  57. Words cannot express my appreciation for your simple act of sharing this most important document, the Warrior’s Code. I will share it with many, many others, Combat Veterans and Civilians alike.

    Thank you so very much.

    Welcome home, Brother. Thank you for your service and sacrifices to our wonderful country.

    Bill Cross. National Commander, Combat Infantrymen’s Association – http://www.cibassoc.com

  58. The Warrior’s Code was written extremely well. It says it all. I could not find any negatives. The part that struck me the hardest was that I made it home, while wounded, but many in my platoon did not. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of their ultimate sacrifice.

    It took me 40+ years to talk about the war, which I shared with other Nam vets. I posted this Code on our
    regiment message board to share with my comrades. Everyone that read the Code was very much touched by the meaning of its content. Thank you.

    Dominic Mish 2/2 HHC-RECON PLT 1ST INF DIV.Viet Nam – 1966-1967 Purple Heart Medal recipient

  59. I am a Marine who was awarded three Purple Heart Medals while serving as a grunt in Vietnam . I have as of today found over 230 Marines that served in my unit, Delta 1/7 Marines. I am the founder of the Delta 1/7 Vietnam 1965-1970 Marines Association. I will use the Warrior’ Code on our Delta 1/7 Vietnam Marine Veterans web-site. I will also have it published in our local newspaper. This writing is a wonderful way to explain exactly who we are, not only to us combat veterans, but also to our families, friends, neighbors, and others in our communities.
    Thanks, take care, welcome home, and Semper Fi.

    Your veteran combat brother.

    “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.”

    George Schneider, Purple Heart Medal recipient (forwarded by Pete Oakander)

  60. I read your Warrior’s Code twice and it sure hit home. It really hit the nail on the head that pre-Vietnam “friends” are now acquaintances. I work part time with a group of guys my age – 70- and there are four of us that are Vietnam vets. We tend to stick to ourselves because as you know, no matter how hard you try to explain Vietnam , unless you were there you can’t understand it. I was in I corps with fox 2/7 1st Marine Division. I got in country 9-66 and was medevaced 9-67.

    Our company has a reunion every other year and about 60 to 70 of us from fox 2/7 from 1965 to 1973, and even Korean fox 2/7’ers attend. We do go out on tours and dinner cruises so our wives have something to do. We all sit around and talk about ‘nam. I find it cathartic talking about it. We understand each other as no one else can. Vietnam has left an indelible mark on all who served there. I am proud to have served in the United States Marine Corps and would never give up what I did. I got 2 purple hearts and am damn proud of my service.

    Thanks.

    Semper fi till I die.

    John MontMarquette, Purple Heart Medal recipient.

  61. I am a combat veteran who served in Viet Nam as a Marine radio man. I want to thank you for the combat veteran’s Code; I could have never expressed it so well, although my feelings are the same as yours. It is so hard for me to get my family to understand me. I will have them read the Warrior’s Code, then they can take it from there.

    Upon turning 18, I enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. In September of 1967 I was in Viet Nam as a field radio operator. My unit was the 1st Mar. Div. Hdq. bn. comm. Co. radio plt. Our radio site on hill 200 was overrun during the 1968 Tet offensive. During the rest of my tour I participated in operations Mameluke Thrust, Allen Brook, etc.

    One of the things in the Warrior’s Code that struck me most was how true it is that we would be so disconnected from friends, family, and just people in general when we returned home from combat. My old High School classmates were history. When my loving parents picked me up at the airport, it was almost like riding home with strangers.

    I couldn’t wait to get home, get out of my uniform and go get drunk. After getting out of the Marine Corps, the adrenalin high you spoke of was missing, but how do you reach that pinnacle in civilian life?

    I could only feel comfortable around my vet buddies. It was only after three marriages, thoughts of suicide, and behavior that I look back on as shameful, that I sought help from the VA in 2000. If not for that, I really don’t know where I would be.

    I get along now, with the help of my wife, god bless her. I don’t know how she has stuck by me all these years, through the nightmares, getting slugged in her sleep, or me waking her up by my screaming. I still don’t like going to social functions, I’m not much for small talk.

    I hope this brief synopsis of my time in the Corps, and being a civilian can help a veteran. If there is anything else I can do to help, please call on me. Thank you very much.

    john c. mcalister.

  62. I send honor to he who wrote the Warrior’s Code; I dare not try to add a thing!! It speaks volumes, Just as is!! Some of us may understand it best as a Warrior themselves, others as Combat Supporters of those Warriors, & some very little, not having ever been in uniform, still others, as dependants/loved ones/friends of Warriors in a far different, but VERY real way. We all need to find a way to somehow better understand, respect & treat those Warriors we know & encounter!!

    r./ T.Dye, Major, USAF(Ret.)

  63. I have just now read the Warrior’s Code and am breathless as it is talking about me. I will read it again and give it time to process. I have PTSD, two Purple Hearts from Nam with the Marines. Currently, meeting with therapist weekly at V.A. trying to come to grips with just one of my traumas. Finding this Code at this time was meant to be and I appreciate it. Semper Fi.

    Steve Bozeman, Lynchburg, VA. Purple Heart Medal recipient

  64. Greetings from SCOTLAND . I am an ex-vet from South Africa and although I did not see any ‘live
    contact’ action in Angola I only came to realise that more than twenty years later I had been battling on my own with the now labelled PTSD. I am now in a position, in hindsight to be of service to ex vets in the UK ( United Kingdom ) .I am doing this in my own small way and have just launched this initiative with the website – http://www.ptsdhealing.co.uk. I am going to create a page with your Warrior’s ‘Code of Honour’ on it to help civilians get a deeper understanding of what our returning soldiers and families are going through. Thank you for going through the ‘dark night of the soul’ and bringing back this gold from the shadow lands.
    May peace be in your heart and mind.

    Jason

  65. Thank you for writing the Warrior’s Code. No truer words were ever written.

    Kevin Howell 1stSgt USMC (Retired) 4 Purple Heart. Purple Heart Medal Recipient

  66. Dear writer of the Warrior’s Code, well said, and it says it all. The Code it fits my life since 1967 to a “T”. The only people I associate with are “combat veterans”. My best friend, other than my wife, I met in Viet Nam, went to college together and we communicate daily and see each other as often as possible even though we live 150 mile from each other. We both have issues with people.

    I’m 67 years old and I am still an “adrenaline junky”, and I love it. I drive 50 miles to work daily and death rides shotgun with me as I travel a very dangerous stretch of the interstate system. Though I walk through the valley in the shadow of death I will fear no evil because I’m the baddest MF in the valley.

    There are many more things in the Code that fit me. I was a corpsman with D Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd
    Marines, 3rd Marine Division – My Brothers, all of 1965 and part of 1966.

    When I graduated from university I almost went back in the Marines but by then I had a family coming and I had to support them as best I could. I wished I would have gone back as I feel as I have left something undone.

    Doc D/1/3/3. John Harrison Purple Heart Medal recipient

  67. Your Warrior’s Code could have not said it better. I enlisted 7/14/47 in the Marines and served aboard the USS Helena CA75. I did three enlistments and was discharged 7/13/50. I was in the reserve and got recalled for Korea . My fighting was from 2/15/51 till the ceasefire talks ended in 1953. Then I was sent to Pusan to the hospital ship then to Japan .

    I wear the Korea ribbon with 3 stars, had 3 close calls but don’t wear the Purple Heart. One day I chased 20 (enemy) across a ridgeline with a 30 cal. machine gun at 1000 yards, 13 didn’t make it, and I was hitting some of the others on the far side said a spotter plane, so I don’t know how many I really got.

    Al Dale

  68. I just completed reading your Warrior’s Code and I must say OUTSTANDING! This is great and I am going to use this and parts of it in some of my writings. I am a Christian and believe in what we call “Devine Intervention” for such a time as our meeting . I am the author of the book “The Angel Of Death.” In my book I call PTSD the Cancer of The Soul. I’m also on Facebook as John Blehm SR and you can find comments about my book there as well.

    I’m in the process of writing a second book which is about Post Traumatic Stress which I acquired in 1969 while in Vietnam for 19 months. I have 3 Purple Hearts and 2 Bronze Stars and a few other medals etc. etc. That was in 1969 and 1970 but I was not diagnosed with PTSD until 1997. By then a lot of water under the bridge because of Vietnam and God has given me the wisdom to speak into other soldiers and their families about what has happened to them.

    They listen because I’m one of them. So that’s what I do now. It’s not about me being famous or anything like that it’s about helping other vets so they don’t go through what I’ve been through.
    Again a job well done. God bless
    John Blehm Purple Heart Medal recipient

  69. The Warrior’s Code is true. It is so very well expressed and common to the feelings of those who have served in actual combat and seen hell. I was with Delta Co. 1/7, First Mar Div. 69-70, and served with heroes who never intended to be heroes. All were just doing whatever was necessary to give more than they had. They didn’t hesitate to give their all if their actions might save a buddy or remove the threat at the root…our enemy. We never get over the loss of our friends, or as near as I can tell 42 years later, the memories.

    Sometimes I wonder if I will ever feel “normal” again. I’ve learned to get thru many of these things with the
    love and support of family and friends. The nightmares went away, the adrenaline rush has faded, as has the survivors guilt. I used to beat myself up, wondering what more could I or should have done. I’m now at rest, trusting that I did all I could at that time.

    I go to 1/7 reunions, and am still in touch with all of the men of the company we can find. I work as a volunteer at Young Marines, etc., to help out. Semper fi,

    Patrick Keally. USMC 1968-1981. [devildogpatrick@gmail.com] Purple Heart Medal recipient.

  70. When I read your Warrior’s Code it was like your mind and my own were in one accord. I kept shaking my head in concurrence with this exceptional writing effort of yours, which those thoughts about combat, brotherhood, trust, and many others all have been racing about my brain-housing group for forty-four years. I am going to send the Warrior’s Code on to my wife, and our two adult children in hopes that doing such will provide for them a greater understanding of their husband and father.

    A short bio follows about my USMC Service. Vietnam tour served with Suicide Charley Company, 1/7
    Marines 0331 – M60 Machine Gunner August 1968 March 1969. I am a Purple Heart Veteran – Through and through gun shot wound. Total Left Hip replacement.

    Semper Fi, and God Bless you and yours.

    Richard A. Weiss.
    Purple Heart Medal recipient

  71. Dear Paul, I want to update you about what is going on since we got to know each other back in 2007. As you know, I work for the CSRA Wounded Warrior Care Project in Augusta, Georgia (www.projectaugusta.org). I am responsible for developing a Warrior Care Team in our area, working with over 700 wounded warriors who have been validated through the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Veterans Administration (VA), then certified by our Federal Recovery Coordinator to be veterans who are not working, have no money, diagnosed with severe PTSD, and are near to killing themselves. As I told you before, your Warriors Code is the greatest document ever written about combat. I know because I have read and researched extensively. Everyone from a General to a Private who has experienced combat has commented that your Warrior’s Code is right on target, and has helped them understand their own PTSD.

    Your Warriors Code is helping our brothers and sisters even in today’s “modern” battlefield. Combat is combat and will never change. For example, I have been working with a young Iraq veteran near suicide. He was blown up in Iraq and saw his best friend killed during the same explosion. He had severe PTSD and refused to talk about any part of his combat experience. The first thing I did was give him your Warriors Code so he would know he wasn’t alone anymore. He cried when he read it. He opened up and is now functioning normal, managing PTSD, has readjusted and is working again in a good job. Through your efforts you have really made a big difference in his life and the lives of so many wounded warriors and others.

    As I researched PTSD, I discovered that most caregivers seem to be treating the symptoms rather that the source. How can you successfully treat PTSD if you do not know the source?

    To illustrate the importance of knowing the source of a problem, Louis Pasteur clearly identified the source of spoiled milk, beer, wine, etc. as being the growth of microorganisms, not “spontaneous generation” as was thought.

    Continuing this illustration, PTSD caregivers are working on “spontaneous generation” instead of the microorganism source. To say this another way, caregivers are working on the refrigerator because the sink leaks. No wonder it is difficult to find very many stories of success in treating PTSD.

    The problem is that combat vets find it virtually impossible to talk about it, to “open up” to non-combat experienced clinical caregivers, which is the first step in the healing process. Your Warrior’s Code breaks this “code of silence” and accurately describes the journey from civilian to combat warrior and back to civilian life. It clearly defines what happens to those who leave the safe civilian world and cross over into the terrifying, dangerous world of the combat warrior. You provide invaluable insight into what fighting for your life does to the warrior’s heart, soul, spirit and mind. The Warrior’s Code captures the very essence of the defining moment of traumatic transition from “soldier” to “combat warrior,” and most importantly, the beginning of PTSD, the source of PTSD. Your words have provided the detailed understanding of the mind of the combat warrior that was lacking before. Thanks to you, instead of just treating the symptoms we now have the guidance necessary for unlocking the heretofore mysterious beginning and/or source of PTSD, thus your Warrior’s Code is a cure for PTSD.

    I want you to know how much your Warriors Code of Honor has influenced our Warrior Care Team approach. Continuing the illustration above, our Wounded Warrior Care Team here in Augusta — unlike most PTSD caregivers – do not waste our time working on the refrigerator because the sink leaks, we work on the leaky sink. I believe the “leaky sink” –PTSD — must be fixed by a combat veteran, repeat: combat veteran not a civilian who is a trained and certified mentor who works closely with and compliments non-combat vet professional clinicians, community reintegration workers and spiritual advisors; in short — a multifaceted Warrior Care Team.

    We have started a Combat Veteran Mentor training program with combat vets from Viet Nam and OIF/OEF (Iraq & Afghanistan) to mentor veterans and also to mentor warriors still serving in the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Gordon who will be Med Boarded out (Medical Discharge). Both programs have the support of the Army and VA and are to become the standard model within the VA system. Your Warrior’s Code is intergraded in both the DoD and VA programs and always is received very well by the combat vets.
    Your Warriors Code is the foundation and basis for these Mentor programs by combat veterans, not civilians. It is making a really huge difference in the lives of wounded warriors and their loved ones. In conclusion, thank you very much for writing The Warrior’s Code of Honor.
    Art Robb

  72. Hello to the writer of the Warrior’s Code. I am a counselor and physiologist and write training manuals for the military for PTSD. I am trying to help each and every soldier and vet the best I can by bringing to the table the real “truth” about PTSD and war. I can’t speak from anything but a military wife stand point, but I live with it too for 37 years. I live right here at Fort Hood in Killeen Texas so I get the opportunity to see what war has done.

    I was so moved with your Warrior’s Code of Honor that I cried. It says it the best I have ever heard. I want to tell you that you inspire me so much. During all my research, reading and studying about PTSD, I have never had anything ever move me like that did. It puts war into perspective for someone who has never been there.

    I go to military bases all over the world not only doing PTSD research but talking to them as well. The first thing I do when I step off the plane is have your Warrior’s Code printed out. Then when I hold PTSD awareness classes I give it to everyone to read and there is not a dry eye in the room and total silence with the soldiers in there as well. We have people from the Army, Marines, and Air Force – so far no Navy – and they all seem to get that 1,000 mile stare. Hats off to you! You are changing people’s lives all over the world.

    I have two questions:

    It would be a great thing if someone of your stature would be willing to travel with us and speak about PTSD. Would you be interested?

    You have already given me permission to print your Warrior’s Code in the training manuals for the military for PTSD. In addition, I want to write an article about you and a tribute to you as well. Is it OK?

    God Bless You,

    Ann Brown JCCAE

    • Thank you Miss Ann but I respectfully decline both offers. Only my wife knows I wrote
      the Warrior’s Code, no one else even knows I was in the Military. I wish to keep out of the public eye for reasons civilians will ever understand but bloodied combat veterans will.

  73. Thanks for the Warrior’s Code and helping me better understand myself. I was a U.S. Army draftee – Viet Nam 29 July 1970 to 28 July 1971 non-combatant…but yet, I still have many of the same feelings as expressed in the Code. Most of my time in Nam was spent on a base or in a fair sized protected compound. My one experience out of a controlled area was a convoy. I had fears there even though we knew it was a heavily patrolled area (patrolled by our forces.) Yet I know that I am not the same guy that left here in July of 1970. I have some local vet friends, and as you said in the Code, I do feel more comfortable among them. I am the one who sits with his back to the wall and always watches all that goes on around me, etc.
    Take care and God Bless.

    Jim White

    • Hi Jim, it’s that fear of “what if” that changes who you are, just like it does to the guys in the front line. Even in the rear you must “not feel” that fear in order to do your duty, so you shut down your feelings which grinds you down into PTSD. It’s about ALWAYS being ready for the threat that may be around the bend which forever molds, shapes and twists you. As you can see, I paraphrased some of the simply magnificent writing of John Wagner’s comment.

  74. I’ll tell no stories of war; I’ve no need to testify on behalf of the pain of dedication displayed by Warriors. I’ll only signify that I understand, at the deepest level of my body, mind, and spirit, that war does change one when death becomes an intimate. I will tell you now, at the start of this letter, that there is a hope out there. That I re-found my faith and belief in God and my fellows, and in myself. But that journey was a long one.

    I’ll instead say that I too wandered in the always ready, check your weapons and ammo mode for many years. I never entered a store, restaurant, movie theater or bar without scoping out the back door and what could I hide behind, if… always the “if”. Regardless of the reality of the situation, I had to be always ready to react to threats.

    See, it’s that “What if…” that grinds you down into PTSD. It’s about ALWAYS being ready for the threat that deadly won experience tells me is around the bend. It is a mind set rooted in fear. But such a thing cannot be, for you are a Warrior, like it or not, understand it or not. Some acknowledge the fear; some resolutely turn their minds from it, but all who struggle and fight in deadly earnest are forever molded by the things that HAD to be done to survive. I lived that you see, for far too long, trying to ignore the root cause of my discontent. In avoiding the pain, and the fear, the loss and grief, I ignored the beauty, wonder, and peace that surrounded me if I could but see it.

    I lost my faith in God and even worse, in myself. But I was lucky. Others had been there before me and I was fortunate to find a group of men who understood. I’ll tell you that through the grace of God, a lot of therapy with other vets at our local County Vet Center, a stint at the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress — at Menlo Park , California — a lot of prayer and hard work, something changed. That something is, sorrowfully, rather an indistinct quality. But it manifests as a sense of honor, a sense of acceptance and gratitude.

    Warriors are, in my experience, more sensitive than most men after the deadly shadow has passed over them. Sensitive in a way that seems almost instinctive, that sees their fellow man as an individual. But when faced with the reality of bodies, blood, pain and violent death, when you, the living, must deal with those, the dead, that sensitivity must hide so that it can survive. Things will never return to “…how they were”, you cannot stuff the genie back into the bottle. You must learn to live with it.

    But one can regain their sense of honor and gratitude. Again, I hesitate to give advice for I am an expert in only one case; mine. But I have seen others who have found that their dedication to their country, their Corps, themselves and to God, can be regained. I was told “Acceptance is the key”. This simple phrase holds a vast field of understanding, but it is not an easy one to understand.

    There is a path back to the joy of living. It’s twisted and dark sometimes, but with patience and help one can find the way back to joy (serenity). I’m rambling here, it’s 3 AM and my wife is sleeping, the house is quiet, and I am probably not making too much sense.

    May God bless you, hang in there, allow yourself all benefit of doubt, and thank you all.

    John Wagner, once L/CPL “Wags”, 2nd Force Recon ’67, 1st Air Delivery Plt. ’67-’69, USMC Vietnam, #2298163.
    Purple Heart Medal recipient
    (name & email address withheld at sender’s request. This email can be authenticated by the hard copy in my files.)

    • Dear John,

      what you call “a sense of honor, a sense of acceptance and gratitude,” I call “serenity.” Thank you for your inspiring message. I have also used some of your timeless words/phrases elsewhere because you are a hell of a lot better writer than I am.

  75. Dear fellow patriot: Thank you for your profound statement of the Warrior’s Code of Honor. I believe that your statements are true and correct. Many of the combat veterans whom I met since I retired from the service have not been able to talk with their loved ones about their combat experiences they have internalized.

    Since I served in many a battle in WW II, in battalion intelligence section I went on many patrols, not to engage the enemy in a fire fight, but to learn where the enemy is and what he is doing. That, of course didn’t keep me out of fire fights.

    In Korea I served at a higher headquarters, thus not in direct enemy contact. Nevertheless, my team was very productive in collecting information.

    During the Vietnam conflict I taught soldiers and marines who had the opportunity to question enemy combatants how to understand the mentality of the enemy.

    On Anzio beachhead (WWII) we had quite a few of our young troops get scared and hid in the rear. It was necessary for us who understood the indoctrination given to the members of the “Master Race” to explain to our forces what propaganda was used by the Germans to indoctrinate their troops and broadcast seducing messages to our soldiers. Unfortunately that had not been part of our basic training curriculum. The honor earned by a soldier in combat by holding and effectively firing goes hand in hand with the loyalty to ones fellow soldiers.

    Interesting that you mention survivor guilt feelings in the Code. A psychologist asked me once if I had such feelings because my parents were killed at Auschwitz while my father had sent me to the U.S.A. before most of the killing started. I have no such feelings of survivor’s guilt. I came to a safe place and carried on our family name. I tried to help some to survive in battle and did not always succeed. I speak of my world. I did the best I could under the circumstances. We cannot change the past.

    People these days ask me if I ever get excited about something. I tell them “Yes I do” when someone shoots at me. They don’t seem to know what it is like to get that adrenaline rush you mention in the Code. I think that they are inflating the word value of “exciting”.

    As editor of our Retired Officers chapter’s newsletter I will share your words with our members. I am anxious to see what, if any, response we get. My best wishes to you and yours in patriotism. Ernst Selig.

    (Patriot Ernst enlisted as a Nobody Private and rose to be a Somebody officer so high in rank that when he retired he was the 700 pound gorilla in the room.)

  76. Thank you for the poignant relevant Warrior’s Code of Honor. I am a Vietnam veteran that was fortunate enough to be awarded the Bronze Star with “V” device (V for valor) and Purple Heart. After being shot through the head with a .50 calibre round; I had over 250 operations in order to put me back together. I never regretted volunteering for F.M.F. and Vietnam because Honor is THAT important.

    I sent a copy of your Code to many people on my internet address book. It is a piece of strength and hope.

    Semper Fi,

    ‘Doc’ Jeffrey Levine. First Marine Division Purple Heart Medal recipient

  77. As an IRAQ vet, this is what I sent to my wife after reading the Warrior’s Code. I need to say thank you.

    I plan on re-reading this again and again. It is long, but you should read it when you can. Read it only when you can have the time to hang on every word like I did. It is important. Whomever this guy is who wrote this, I am glad he did. I am envious and scared I will never understand as clearly as he has, but yet he has, so maybe I can too. War stories are not measured like dicks. It only takes one moment to change a person forever, but the longer you are in the fire (of combat), the more you know, and the deeper you get (in PTSD). The writer is right. How can you know what your emotions are doing if you cannot feel, or feel the way you used to know?

    Sometimes you hide behind other vets hoping in a weird, sick, and shameful way that maybe their experiences were worse, somehow normalizing yours. Maybe it is not hiding; maybe it is more like holding on as tight as you can hoping they will drag you somewhere better. Maybe you are just hoping that while you are in their presence they will say something that you yourself cannot. I wish guilt was in the category of feelings that get shut off and shut down. I do not think that is fair. I think this author figured that out and got past it. I feel like the answer is in his words.

    I am an Iraq vet, but what war you fight in does not matter. What happened, who died, and when are just a matter of names and dates, but the feelings are the same for all wars and the change is forever. War fighting has changed 180 degrees just since 2003 out of necessity, as most change is spawned. We now have body armor that is being scrutinized for being too good — double, triple, quad amputees with no eyes or ears etc. I am personally drawn to the Vietnam combat vets simply due to the similarities of our enemies and wars. 10 years long, not knowing who the enemy is when they all look the same, booby traps, mines/IEDs, RPG’s, AK-47’s, RPK’s, using kids and women, kissing your ass by day and hanging rounds at you by night, not to mention the English teaching abilities of the muzzle of an M-16 just to name a few. The Rosetta Stone will never be able to compete with orienting a weapon at someone with the correct tone of voice. Not everyone can say they sat with a Sheik and village
    cell Mayor eating flat bread and paying “foo money” for information. The only way to test the information was to go run the route, or strategically fake a flat tire and see who came out to play.

    I honestly feel a WWII or Korean War vet had better than me. A defined enemy and enemy uniforms. Not all the time I realize. The Vietnam vets did not have this luxury much of the time either. What I would not give to charge into battle one time and be able to say “there they are, shoot em.” Not having to wonder every time who had the cell phone in their pocket or the gun/suicide vest under the man dress. I don’t know that I can argue which vets had it better or worse. I believe the bond and brotherhood spans generations of vets, the bond the writer speaks of — Honor.

    I agree with the writer that the first shot in your direction kills the little boy — or girl– inside you, and mourning …trying to bring that person back, is just as hard on you. You are mourning a loss of innocence and life as you knew it from that moment on. You will not be the same and that realization is hard, fast, and hard to swallow.

    I suppose I am rambling now. Maybe that helps. I know that what you have written will help many. I am one of them and I dearly hope my wife will be one too. This was from my heart and my full name and unit are not important.

    Thanks again.

    H2 Golf (name & email address withheld at sender’s request. This email can be authenticated by the hard copy in my files. Paul R. Allen).

  78. I was a machine gunner in Viet Nam in 1966-67 with the 5th bn 7th cav. I lost my ammo barrier the first fire fight, and lost my asst gunner in 1967. I was wounded Oct 4th 1967. Pain is hell, got back problems now and got to wait to get help through the VA but it is slow. I still have problems and still go to PTSD group to help me out or I’d be homeless and have nothing and no one cares. 75 cents and all your medals will buy you a cup of coffee.

    You are doing a great job. I gave the Warrior’s Code to all the members of the PTSD group that I attend and they think it is real. I KNOW it real because I was there, but we got to talk about some of these things with other vets to help the healing process. Little by little it helps to talk things out and not feel guilty of the things that happened, we are still all suffering a loss of one kind or another. We all stick together and help each other out when in need, or just to talk.

    Robert D. Wagner. Adjutant MOPH Chapter 679, Jr. Vice Commander MOPH Department of Idaho,
    Purple Heart Medal recipient.

  79. Hello from IRAQ, I am still here as I write this. As a combat vet, what you wrote in the Warrior’s Code brought tears to my eyes. People do not understand this back home. They do not understand why we are the way we are. When I do go home to visit, I am made to feel like there is something wrong with me, that I lost touch with “normal reality,” and that I am a loner because I avoid meaningless conversations about “reality TV shows” or whatever else is popular at the moment. Thank you for the time you took to write the Code. It helped me feel less alone in the world.

    Regards, Sean McNally

  80. I know what you are saying in the Warrior’s Code. People don’t know what its like unless you have been there and done that. I tried to tell a person one day when he asked what happened to me (how I got wounded). I told him we came under fire and I felt like during the fight that God put his hand over me and my pal setting next to me in a bunker. I picture it as God’s fingers on the ground, and us in a cup type of formation, and He said “son, you and Joe are a little banged up (wounded) but you will be okay,” looking at his hand as he left, and it was bleeding. Joe and I were scared, but we had to take care of another fire support base next to us. They took more rounds than we did but we stopped that, even after (our own) people kept yelling “don’t shoot.” We asked them, what do we do, just sit here and
    let those other Warriors lose their life?

    Well this may not make sense, but there is not a day that passes that I don’t think about that moment, it
    happened in the blink of and eye, but it will be with me till I die.

    Bill Melton, member of MOPH, 5th 27th Field Artillery Fire Support Base Brenda near Phang Rang; Song Mol; Phan Theit; Viet Nam, 1969-1970 Purple Heart Medal recipient

  81. Thank you for such a breathtaking rendition of what combat is like, and also how it is to return afterwards. Even 40+ years later your words take me back to the Viet Nam war and the aftermath. My Purple Heart brings with it the memories of the two others who were killed in the same booby trap incident. For years the survivor’s guilt haunted me, until I found out my purpose for still being here and also that I am not alone with these feelings. I am going to republish the Warrior’s Code in my newsletters.

    Tom Hohmann USMC 1968-1972 Viet Nam – Golf 2/5-1968-1969 Grunt/Radioman
    Purple Heart Medal recipient

  82. Fellow warrior, I am humbled to read your essay on combat (the Warriors Code of Honor). I too have credentials; combat veteran from the Viet Nam war, Purple Heart winner, and love of our great country. I want to thank you for putting it down in words so that both of my sons were able to read it and grasp a new meaning on what we all endured.

    Thanks for sharing, with all my respect,

    David Rothwell Sr. L Company 75th Inf 101st Airborne Viet Nam 70-71 Purple Heart Medal recipient

  83. Veterans are hesitant to talk about combat because:
    Unless you have experienced- 1. hunger – C’s (C rations); 2. thirst; 3. fatigue; 4. sleep deprivation; 5. heat; 6. cold; 7. no baths, showers; 8. Same clothes for days; all unending, it is not in their frame of reference – understanding – so why talk to them? All of us (veterans) have something to say that is screaming on the inside of us.

    The Warrior’s Code says it.

    LTC Fred Rosenbaum, Retired, former Commanding Officer, A Co, 1st Batt, 2nd Infantry, wounded in Tet Offensive Viet Nam 1968. Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Career recognition of 14 awards and decorations, Member of MOPH
    Chapter 744. flrosenbaum@suddenlink.net. Purple Heart Medal recipient.

  84. The Warrior’s Code is well done and I think every Veterans Administration unit should get on this band wagon, get them passed out. I do have a thought on PTS, notice the D is dropped; as some of us feel it is not a disorder. Post traumatic stress is exactly what it is.

    My other concerns are vets coming back from theater and have PTS. Caused by always being on alert, or road side bombs (IED’S), or other situations. Not all combat related, the human psyci is very fragile. I intend to make copies of your code and pass it on to those who need it.

    Ned Brooks. [mailto:nhsal@amlegion.state.nh.us]

  85. It is an honor to know you. The Code of Honor is beautiful, and so true. I think you and I connect, as veterans do, who indeed have been there/done that, for we followed that path of honor and devotion to duty. Our word of Honor meant more to us than any amount of gold.

    Gary Jacobson. Combat infantryman, B Co 2nd/7th 1st Air Calvary `66-`67, LZ Bet. Phan Thiet , Vietnam . This is the same unit depicted in the Mel Gibson movie, “We Were Soldiers,” one year later.

    Purple Heart Medal recipient.

  86. Thanks for the Warrior’s Code website and I’ll make distribution of the Code at our next meeting. If you reside in the Mountain Home, AR area we’d certainly encourage you to attend our meetings.

    Yours in Patriotism,

    John R. Kopacz, 3rd Bn. 4th Marines, various locations in & out of Nam DMZ 1966/1967.
    Adjutant of MOPH Chapter #581. (email address withheld at sender’s request. Direct all requests to authenticate this email to Adjutant, MOPH Chapter #581 @ VFW Chapter #3246, 7th & Grey Sts, Mountain Home , AR 72653 ). Purple Heart Medal recipient.

  87. The Warrior’s Code poem/story is very nice. I have forwarded that to our local MOPH Chapter members and our Department – statewide – Commander.

    What chapter did you join? We certainly need people like you in our effort to continue serving our fellow veterans and our communities. Very best of luck.

    Steven D. Giroux, 25th Infantry Division. Sr. Vice Pres. MOPH Chapter #568. Purple Heart Medal recipient.

  88. Your writing is extremely poignant. I saw myself all the way through. Bravo Zulu as we Navy sailors say. I served with the Mobile Riverine Force – Task Force 117 as a Radioman/Machine gunner. We moved U.S. 9th Infantry Division, Vietnamese Marine Corps (VNMC), South Vietnamese Army (ARVN), South Vietnamese Regional Forces, and Popular Forces (RF/PF) and slugged it out at close range with the VC/NVA all throughout the III & IV Tactical Zones.

    Time Magazine spoke of our casualty rate that hovered around 70%. Lots of wounded Riverine Force sailors due to RPG and Recoilless Rifle fire. I had many close calls, but was never wounded. It was quite a sight to watch a Viet Cong soldier stand up, shoulder his launcher, take his time and then fire directly at my boat from about 75 yards. My weapon was not handy. I can still see the puff of black smoke that came out of the tube. The rocket came in slow motion. It missed me by about 6′ and our mini-flight deck by about 6″. It knocked down a palm tree beside us. I could feel the heat from the rocket.

    The Lieutenant asked where it came from. I guided our Zippo Boat to the exact area and they hosed it down with napalm. Some grunts went in to investigate and there were two dead VC in the spider hole. A very close call. If the rocket would have been that 6″ lower I would have been dead or very seriously wounded along with some of my crewmates and the Vietnamese Marines we had just extracted. Thus, I agree with one of the posters to the Code’s website that one doesn’t need to be wounded in order to understand and be a part of the Code.

    My homecoming was strange. When we landed at Travis AFB I literally got down on my hands and knees and kissed the tarmac. Then as I was walking towards the terminal I turned to see what the noise was to my left. Protesters had the front gate plugged up and they were flying the Viet Cong (VC) and North Vietnamese Army (NVA) flags. Then our officers told us to change into civilian clothes and try to blend in. I was very confused. We’d survived a year in combat and now we were supposed to hide?! Not this guy.

    I have been an accredited Veteran Service Representative (VSR) with Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) for many years now. All of my representation has been done here in my “Bunker” in my home because I cannot sit in an office out in public without becoming severely stressed due to PTSD. With Great Respect,

    Mike Harris (RM2) River Assault Squadron 15 River Assault Division 152 Boat: T-152-1 July 68 to July 69 Personal: http://www.riverinesailor.com.

  89. What a powerful message and only a combat fire tested Veteran can understand the spoken and unspoken words, so eloquently framed. I will treasure the inspirational words as I attempt to convince my fellow combat wounded Veterans of the need to reach out to others of our Brotherhood. I look forward to meeting you some day.

    Thank you and God bless you
    .
    E. Leon Thomas, Infantry Company C, 8th Cav Reg., 1st Cav Division, Korea – 1951. Commander of MOPH Department of California. Purple Heart Medal recipient.

  90. Thank you for the Code – what a great piece of literature, I read it three times before I forwarded it to all 185 e-mail addresses in our MOPH chapter.

    Thanks again. Semper Fi.,

    John Cooney, MSgt, USMC (retired). Member of MOPH Chapter #642 Purple Heart Medal recipient.

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